Burglars left whisky trail from store after raid
By Court reporter | 31st July 2023
Two men involved in the burglary of a Co-op store in Gloucester were caught because of a trail of whisky the gang left behind during their getaway, a court heard.
The alcohol trail led from the Co-op at Longford, Gloucester, to a nearby block of flats where one of the gang lived at the time, Gloucester Crown Court was told.
Four men were arrested at the property soon after the raid and on Thursday two members of the criminal enterprise were sentenced to suspended jail sentences after admitting their roles in the £2,000 burglary.
Two more of the gang will be sentenced next month.
In the dock were Mark Dart, aged 62, of Vicarage Court, Brockworth, and Scott McChristie, 55, of Coriander Drive, Churchdown.
Their appearance coincided with an announcement by the Co-Operative Group that there were 175,000 crime-related incidents at its stores during the first six months of this year.
The prosecution said that at 11.15pm on April 2nd 2020, members of a five-man gang forced their way into the Longford Co-op, having arrived in a stolen Audi Q2 bearing false number plates.
Three of the group forced their way into the store by attacking a window that had already been boarded up.
They picked up a drain cover and threw it at the boarded-up window and entered the shop, causing significant damage. On entry, the three men damaged the till and removed items of alcohol and cigarettes, valued at around £2,000, before making their getaway.
A trail of liquid caused by a broken bottle of whisky led the police to a block of nearby flats where one of the gang had been living at the time. Four men were arrested there.
Their phones were seized and McChristie's contained a message indicating they were selling cut-price cigarettes.
Dart was said to be the gang's look-out while McChristie was said to be selling the stolen items and had not been part of the burglary itself.
Caitlin Evans, for Dart, said: "My client was effectively the lookout for the gang. He was not one of the men who entered the store. He doesn't know anything about the stolen car.
"Dart has been a drug addict for over 30 years and has admitted his guilt without the need of a trial."
Jason Coulter, for McChristie, said that he had no part in the burglary of the Co-operative store but admitted his part of handling the stolen goods and added: "He is an alcoholic and has been for a very long time. I believe the suggestion of a community order is the best way forward as this would help him address his alcoholism issues."
Dart pleaded guilty to his part in the burglary and the theft of cigarettes and alcohol valued at £2,000 at the Co-op, Longford Lane, Longlevens, on April 2, 2020 while McChristie admitted handling the stolen goods on the same date.
The judge, Recorder Richard Mawhinney said two more men involved in the gang were due to be sentenced on August 21.
The judge told Dart that he had been before courts on numerous occasions but nothing since 2010 until he was caught driving under the influence of drugs in April 2019 and added: "However, I am impressed with the progress in combating your drug addiction over the past three years during which you have kept out of trouble.
"I have also taken into account your health problems in coming to the sentence which will be seven-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months."
Recorder Mawhinny told McChristie that he hadn't been in trouble with the police for over 30 years, until this offence and added: "You accepted that you were the man who was going to sell the stolen items on behalf of the group and I understand that you have been addressing you alcohol addiction."
McChristie was sentenced to a 12-month community order which included a six-month alcohol treatment requirement. Both men were ordered to pay compensation of £200 to the Co-operative store.
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